This picture was taken by Anne Gordon (The well known travel writer) see her blog in the travel section of my links (Travels with Anne). The carver wears his mask and the tongue comes separate – she was kind enough to bring this back for me (both the tongue and mask) .
The malagans are distinctive to the tribes that make them and they along with the various other adornments and implements are all part of a funerary right and are collectively known as “malagan”.
It is common for one side of the mask to differ from another and they are sometimes worn to attack the property of the dead person several years after their death to clear the world of their influence. Interesting how this stuff develops. I suppose it helps people forget if sad memories keep hanging on. my mask was specifically made by the carver (Fabian P.) for sale to foreigners. Fabian is an apprentice under a master mask carver in Papua New Guinea (PNG) Most specifically an island called “New Ireland”.
While on the subject of New Guinea, The Underground Atlas” talks of its cave potential as amongst the most exciting in the world – enormous underground rivers and depth potential that can exceed a thousand meters. Very little has been explored, but there is a growing local caving scene. New Ireland – where the picture of the malagan was taken apparently has extensive karst formation – like Jamaica, cone karst and extensive dolines.
I suppose you can guess where I am hoping to take a holiday some day. Check out Anne’s blog for further New Guniea stuff (travel link to the lower right).